Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Selected New Beethoven and Beethoven-Related Books

Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Selected New Beethoven and Beethoven-Related Books

Article excerpt

I. Books of interest to the general reader

A. Books in English

Berlioz, Hector. The Art of Music and Other Essays (A Travers Chants). Trans, and ed. by Elizabeth Csicsery-Ronay. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. xiv, 274 pp. ISBN 0-253-31164-0. $29.95.

English translation of Berlioz's A Travers Chants, a collection of his essays on music originally published in 1862. Berlioz was an ardent champion of Beethoven's music in his criticism as well as on the podium. These famous essays are rich with references to Beethoven's music (particularly the symphonies) and its impact on European audiences in the decades immediately following Beethoven's death. Included are "A Critical Study of Beethoven's Nine Symphonies" (1837-1838), "A Few Words About the Trios and Sonatas of Beethoven" (1837), and "Fidelio" (1860). In the amusing refutation of the concept of absolute beauty in music ("Beethoven in the Rings of Saturn: Mediums"; 1860), Beethoven is called forth during a seance from the spirit world to compose a new fortepiano sonata in the style of his "fourth period." The other essays touch on comparisons of Beethoven's music to other composers, including Gluck and Mozart. In "Instruments Added by Modern Composers to the Scores of Old Masters" and "Letter to the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute," Berlioz rails against reorchestrations of the Overture to Fidelio and the Fifth Symphony. In "The End is Near" he recuperates from a performance of an "unspeakable" new work by Offenbach by listening to Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata. With editor's and translator's notes and index.

De Nora, Tia. Beethoven and the Construction of Genius: Musical Politics in Vienna, 1792-1803. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. xiii, 232 pp. ISBN 0-520-08892-1. $29.95.

This fascinating book studies the seeds of Beethoven mythmaking from a sociological perspective. It explores how Beethoven's reputation was established during his early years in Vienna, the social consequences of his rise to fame, the impact of Beethoven's "cultural authority" and the reactive relationship between the creator and critical assessments of his creativity. The author, a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Exeter, scrutinizes our common assumptions about Beethoven's genius and the transcendent nature of his music, asserting that his talent and creativity were fundamentally "social achievements." Her exploration of how Beethoven asserted his influence as a social and cultural "entrepreneur" and his "aesthetic campaigns" to improve Viennese musical life, from fortepiano building to music criticism, makes for absorbing reading. Includes bibliography and index.

Heartz, Daniel. Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School 1740-1780. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. ISBN 0-393-03712-6. 780 pp. $65.

This book was originally intended as the final chapters of Music in the Classic Era as part of the Norton History of Music series, but developed a life of its own after the author scrutinized previously neglected source material on Viennese musical life from ca. 1760. The first chapter describes music events in the churches, theaters, and concert halls of Vienna, with several illustrations (including some beautiful color plates) of the interiors and exteriors of the buildings. The ensuing chapters introduce court composers active from 1740-1765 and Gluck and his operatic reforms. The remainder of the book is devoted to Haydn and Mozart, with a brief excursion to discuss Haydn's contemporaries. Among them are figures prominent in Beethoven's early years, such as his teachers Salieri and Albrechtsberger. Includes bibliography and index.

Kendall, Alan. The Chronicle of Classical Music: An Intimate Diary of the lives and Music of the Great Composers. London: Thames and Hudson, 1994. 288 pp. ISBN 0-500-01627-5. $39.95.

A handsomely illustrated chronology of Western classical music spanning 1600-1984. With a very brief biographical index of composers, an overview of the development of the orchestra, a timeline of musical events, glossary of musical terms, and lists of "star performers of the twentieth century" and "top 100 Classical recordings. …

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